Saturday, June 19, 2010

The Origin of Present-Day Inequality

When looking at the world of today and looking at the differences that exist between Human beings on earth, one could ask if there is a particular reason as to why a specific ‘race’ or ‘country’ or ‘continent’ ended up holding a more favorable position of ‘power’ in comparison to other ‘races’, ‘countries’, or ‘continents’.

Where through economic principles of debt, entire Nations have ended up being enslaved to western creditors with no way out.

Where entire populations are left to starve without regard from the Western countries.

Where one half of the world is actually working to feed the other half that live in better conditions and enjoy more wealth, health and better education.

Was there a pre-programmed advantage involved? And if so – did it have anything to do with the Human?

Since the times when ‘modern civilization’ came into contact with the ‘forgotten parts’ of the world, the west was faced with a peculiar question: how come populations such as the Aboriginals in Australia had virtually made ‘no progress’ since the Stone-Age?

People of ‘Modern civilization’ saw themselves as superior in knowledge, science and culture – giving them a ‘Divine Right’ to either exterminate, convert or enslave the indigenous populations. Ultimately the reason as to why one part of the world came to hold the more fortunate position is then attributed to the particular evolution of knowledge, science and technology within that society.

This is how history is being taught in schools and how it is recorded in the history books. History books will typically emphasize the superiority of the West in terms of philosophy, religion, science and technology, and they will meticulously trace the ‘evolutions’ thereof. Within that, the core belief of the Western world is reinforced - that knowledge is the actual drive of ‘evolution’, ‘change’ and ‘progress’. Recent historical research has uncovered that this is not so. In fact, the role of knowledge, science, technology, religion and even culture in itself are quite irrelevant factors in the journey of Humanity that has resulted in the extreme inequalities that we witness today.

So, then what are the relevant factors?

The biggest factors that have in fact determined the inequality between and within Human societies of today, are Plants, Animals and Germs.

To place this into perspective we will consider the startingpoint of when – according to the historical record - ‘Human civilization’ started. This is said to be between 13 000 and 10 000 years ago, which is after the beginning of a new climate cycle on earth – where it basically became warmer on earth from that point onwards. (With 'Human Civilization' I refer to a new type of 'living together', thus I'm not talking about the beginning of Humans 'living together' as such, which existed much earlier.)

If we look at the basics of Human Life on earth, we can ask: what do Humans primarily require to be able to exist?

According to ‘standard archeological research’, Human Beings had typically been living as nomadic hunter gatherers, where they would settle and move according to a temporary favorable environment. Studies of hunter gatherers in recent centuries have shown that such people lived in what is termed an ‘egalitarian’ form of social organization. ‘Egalitarian’ implies nothing more than that every member of the group is equally responsible for obtaining food, because otherwise there will simply not be enough for everyone. Hence there will be no ‘social classes’ of any significance in such a small society. Even the one regarded as ‘generally more or most responsible’ looks and lives exactly the same way as every one else, simply because they cannot afford to be or look like ‘more’ than another.

Such societies are typically very limited in their ‘cultural products’, because they moved a lot and their only means of transport was their back.

To put it extremely simplistically there existed two basic types of human societies: nomadic hunter gatherers and sedentary farmers. It is quite relevant to make that distinction because all the current societies that are regarded as ‘more advanced’ originated from sedentary farmer societies. So the ‘step’ from the hunter gatherer type of society to sedentary farmers appears to be the decisive ‘step’ in the course of Human history. The history of Farming is said to have started 10 000 years ago - thus marking the beginning of 'Human civilization'.

Let’s look at this point then.

What changes had occurred as a result of humans becoming sedentary farmers?

What generally happens is the following: at one point on the band / tribe will find a vegetable that it can cultivate in a controlled area of soil, which will cause the available food resources to increase. Everywhere where the circumstances have allowed for it man has discovered that he could manipulate certain plants to become suitable for cultivation. A direct consequence of a heightened food production is that the population will be able to grow and a situation will emerge in which some are discharged of their food producing duties. A new ‘class’ is able to emerge. In all societies where farming occurred, hierarchy and social stratification have resulted from it. It seems to be part of the Human program.

Simplistically, inventions such as ‘writing’, ‘the wheel’ and ‘metallurgy’ could only arise in societies where such a thing as ‘free time’ existed, allowing for (some) humans to ‘explore reality’ and to ‘play around’ as part of a new ‘specialized activity’ pertaining to a ‘specialized class’. Thus, farming allowed for heightened food production, which led to population increases, which in turn led to a class emerging that is able to completely be free from food related duties.

Thus agriculture layed the foundation for modern society, in which many are able to never in their lives have to be concerned with food-production. In terms of practical living, farmer-societies would develop a higher level of effectiveness than hunter gatherers. So then why didn’t everyone on earth become farmers?

For farming to really be worth the trouble one needed two things: an effective vegetable and a big mammal to assist with muscle power.

There exist round about 200 000 wild plant species on earth (including non-edible ones, such as trees). Of those 200 000 wild plant species only a few hundreds had been successfully domesticated and of those hundreds only a few dozen are used in today’s world for world-wide production. What does that imply? It means that Human societies did not necessarily have access to effective vegetables for domestication and food production. Within that, bear in mind that none of the vegetables we eat today existed as such in nature: they were genetically modified through a long processes of domestication thousands of years ago. That no significant new plants have ever been domesticated in modern times, suggests that humans did explore all available possibilities already in ancient times. That gives us a pretty sober picture as to the apparent ‘abundance’ of the earths ‘natural resources’.

The big mammals that were used could be seen as the first ‘machines’, with the sole difference that this ‘machine’ wasn’t ‘invented’ and build by the human, but simply existed and walked around in humans natural environment. All Humans had to do was to capture the thing. Though such mammals weren’t readily available anywhere. In fact, very few mammals have ever been available that allowed for effective domestication. (To establish a clear definition, Domestication = an animal bred in captivity, with controlled feeding and breeding, as opposed to ‘taming’ which is capturing an animal born in the wild)

Having a big domesticated mammal constituted quite a big ‘advantage’ because in addition of it offering superior muscle power, it also was a source of fertilizer, a means of transport, a source of meat and some could also produce milk. Mammals were especially utilized to pull plows which allowed for an exponential increase in the surface that could be sown, instead of having to put the grains in the soil manually.

Now, amongst the 148 big herbivorous mammals, only 14 ever proved to be effective for domestication.
- To begin with, one must be able to feed the animal (consider that the biggest percentage of all the grains in the world today are being used as food for cattle).
- The animal must have a fast enough growth rate.
- It must be willing to mate in captivity (which many mammals don’t ever).
- The animal must have a genetic disposition. For instance, while horses had been successfully domesticated in Eurasia, African zebra’s were – and are still today – impossible to domesticate. The animal simply does not submit to the Human. And this goes for all the big mammals of the African continent, such as rhinos, hippos, buffaloes, elands… etc.

Much research, money and effort has been directed towards increasing the amount of domesticated species in modern times – it has virtually amounted to nothing. This suggests pre-programmed conditions in nature, leading to outflows of inequality.

From that perspective different people on different continents simply did not have an equal startingpoint: certain environments allowed for more possibilities than others, either offering the Human ‘many opportunities’ or either limiting him to an extreme degree.

For instance, after the time Humans firs set foot on the Australian continent some 10 000’s of years ago, all big mammals that existed there, went extinct. The same happened in Native America: by the time of the arrival of humans, all big mammals – except for the llama and the closely related alpaca – were either hunted to extinction or perished through the climate shift.

With everything discussed so far, a pattern has now emerged. South America had just one domesticable specie, while North America, Australia, and Sub-Saharan Africa had none. In contrast the remaining 13 mammal species all existed on the Eurasian continent (including North Africa), because the natural environments there were more supportive of those species. Merely by determining the spread of these animals, the course of history already became predictable.

Obviously once a particular technique of food production had been found, that method was then able to spread to other peoples/societies – crops and animals could be used outside of the area where the method was first ‘discovered’. Though here again the environments played a decisive role.

If one look at the size and the orientation of the big landmasses of the earth, one will notice that there are differences. For instance the American and the African continents have a smaller surface than Eurasia. If we then look at the orientation of the landmasses we see that America and Africa both have a vertical orientation on the map. The vertical distance between the two remotest points of the continent is called the ‘north-south axis’. Eurasia has a very broad horizontal orientation, which is termed a ‘west-east axis’.

Why is this relevant? It has to do with the climate differences on the different latitudes of the Earth, such as the Equator. These latitudes run horizontally across the globe – on maps this is depicted as horizontal strokes. This implies that on a landmass with a large horizontal axis, the longest distance of that landmass will find itself laying entirely within one latitude or climate. Hence Plants and Animals that are able to live on one area within one latitude, will most likely be able to live in other areas within that same latitude.

However with Africa and America – because of the vertical orientations – the landmasses are more ‘divided’ by different latitudes. One merely need to consider the desert on the equator in Africa, nearly ‘cutting off’ the upper and the lower halfs of the continent from each other. Thus different latitudes will ‘cut up’ the continent, making transfer of Animals and Plants along a vertical axis more difficult. Let’s illustrate this with a practical example: for instance, while the llama existed as a domesticated animal in South America – and while a type of wheel had been invented in Mexico – the two never met. As a consequence of this, the wheel never got any practical application other than being used for small toys. The two area’s were ‘cut off’ from each other through the climate barrier of Central America.

Another point is that one cannot randomly move a Plant from one location on the globe to another. For instance, plants have pre-programmed time-cycles. If one moves a plant with a particular time-cycle from one area on the globe to another area where the days are shorter, the plant will not be able to survive. Similarly, Animals that have become resistant to the germs that live in one particular climate, will become sick in a new climate with new germs. So Animals and plants are bound to their climatic environments, limiting their ‘free movement’.

So from that perspective the Eurasian continent has had the ‘most favorable’ conditions, allowing for the widest and fastest spread of domesticated Animals and Plant-crops. On top of that Eurasia has been the continent with the most available domesticable big mammals in fact. Thus by its very conditions, the Eurasian continent was more supportive of the Human.

Let’s now finally turn to the subject of Germs.

Why would Germs be so important?

When the Spanish conquerors invaded Native America, they had many points that ‘helped’ them in having a certain advantage over the Native people: they possessed fire-arms, were mounted on horses, were protected by metal armors and had metal swords, though they were not in great number. The Spanish killed, conquered and converted many of the natives – but the majority was in fact killed by Germs which the Europeans had brought from overseas. So the cause of the near extinction of the Native Americans was not due to the Conquerors, but the Viruses. So who really conquered America?

Though, where did these germs come from and why didn’t the Native American Germs kill the Spanish instead?

It seems the Europeans got their Germs from their mammals.

In the process of living together with their Animals, farmers took over their Germs and overtime they build a resistance towards these Germs. Amongst the diseases that have been traced to cattle-germs are: the measles, smallpox and tuberculosis.

A second origin of new diseases was the growth of populations in itself due to sedentary living. Because what happens with sedentary living: groups of people start living in their own sewage, causing many bacteria to infiltrate the drinking water. Thus the bigger the populations, the more Germs. Cities typically have had to deal with epidemics. The building of underground sewage systems was the first point that allowed to really break the pattern. And only till the beginning of the 20 th century did European cities become self-sustaining in terms of their populations, whereas before a constant inflow of healthy farmers from the outside was required to compensate for deaths due to crowd diseases.

Another point that has benefited the Germs in Eurasia was the trading routes. Since they were build in Roman times, a more easy transfer to the different parts of the continent became possible. So now the populations of North Africa, Europe and Asia became one large breeding ground for microbes.

Obviously none of these points were ‘intended’ or even understood.

Thus we could push the point even further and ask whether it is really the peoples of Modern civilization that ended up dominating the globe at all. From a certain perspective it is the germs that are dominating the globe. Perhaps that’s why scientists call groups of microbes ‘Microbe-Cultures’ ?

Let’s have a look at how germs operate.

Some will enter the organism and will then start modifying the organism so as to develop what from a human perspective are ‘symptoms’ or ‘side-effects’ of the actual disease. Though from the Germs perspective: this modification of the body is what allows him to spread more effectively.

Some examples.

Influenza, common cold and ‘whooping cough’ microbes induce the human to cough or to sneeze, thereby launching a cloud of microbes towards potentially new hosts.

The cholera bacterium induces massive diarrhea allowing the bacteria to spread through the water supply of which many will drink.

Then there is the rabies virus that on top of getting in the saliva of an infected dog, will drive the dog into a frenzy of biting and thereby spreading the virus.

Other bacteria will induce genital infections to spread through the human act of sex.

From that perspective it becomes difficult to ignore that more advanced species than the Human exist in fact on earth. It is even becoming more and more uncertain whether the human will be able to adapt to the evolution-speed of new emerging diseases. They have been with the human since day one, and while the human’s genetics haven’t changed since the beginning, the germs have been mutating incessantly.

So – within establishing why The Western world has ended up having such an advantage over other continents and peoples, we have found that Human beings have had very little say in their particular destinies. There has in other words been no real directiveness from the Human within his own history, because if one really look at it – as soon as certain conditions were in place the human would start acting in a predictable pattern. At all times the human has been directed by fear, greed and the desire for power. Nothing ‘revolutionary’ has ever happened other than the human acting out his program, which has resulted in the world we see today.

So why have Human beings never applied common sense to their reality?

For instance, with the technology, the resources, the producing-capacity and the knowledge that exists today, one could easily end things like starvation and poverty forever – allowing for every human on earth to live a dignified life from Birth to Death. That would be common sense, because then there would be no more unnecessary suffering through things like war, exploitation and other behaviors that are based on inequality.

Remember that ultimately, the ‘position’, ‘status’ and ‘power’ one currently hold in this reality is a result of conditions that existed on earth 10 000 years ago – and that it has very little to do with one’s individual capacity. It was instead pre-programmed through the unequal conditions of the earth. This implies that equality should be considered, because otherwise humanity will eternally remain a slave of the past. There is no intrinsic reason why Humans should keep ‘following’ the pre-programmed path of inequality that has been set out since the beginning. Therefore all the suffering that is occurring as a result of it – is completely unnecessary and it can actually be ended. It only requires the will to do so and with the possibilities that are currently available, humanity has really no more excuse.

It’s time to stop.